Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been leading in the polls for months, but he’s just received his first endorsement from a major publication – the infamous tabloid The National Enquirer.
In this stranger-than-fiction presidential race, Trump has been championed by a publication that has recently purported to “out“ a number of celebrities, discovered unsubstantiated cheating scandals, prematurely predicted the imminent deaths of Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Cher and Oprah Winfrey (just to name a few), claimed repeatedly that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were on the brink of divorce, that the Obama daughters were embroiled in a cocaine scandal, and accused comedian Bill Cosby of plotting the murder of his own son.
“Trump Must Be President,” blasts a headline from within the Enquirer’s pages, which includes a list of reasons why the real the estate mogul should be elected, including: “He will chase down illegal immigrants and toss out the criminals who came streaming through our open borders.” That particular statement is ironic, considering the fact that the Enquirer recently published a racially insensitive article about one of its reporters dressing as a “terrorist” and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, in their estimation damning evidence of how porous it is.
This appears to be the first time The National Enquirer has ever endorsed a candidate for president. MSNBC reached out to the tabloid’s parent company for comment about why the Enquirer decided to take the plunge with this year’s contest but has not heard back at this time.
According to The Daily Beast, the Enquirer’s endorsement of Trump is not surprising considering the friendly relationship he and their owner David Pecker enjoy. Trump has repeatedly sung Pecker’s praises on social media and has even penned self-congratulatory op-eds for the tabloid, including a three-part series under the banner “The Man Behind the Legend!” The Enquirer has gushed over “the man who has energized millions of voters with his no-nonsense and businesslike run for the White House” and have praised Trump for “quietly donated a huge chunk of his fortune to charity” and for being a “doting dad” to his young son.
They have also credited Trump with “finally” getting Obama to release his long-form birth certificate in 2011. That same year, the Enquirer predicted a Trump presidential run and promoted polls that showed him competitive in a one-on-one race with the president. Meanwhile, their recent “reporting” on Clinton includes pieces speculating about her weight gain on the campaign trail and allegations that she is “terrified of revelations about her secret lesbian lifestyle!”
The tabloid has also frequently echoed Trump attack lines on his opponents throughout the campaign and even introduced some tawdrier ones, like alleging that Jeb Bush has an extramarital affair with a “Playboy bunny turned lawyer.” Last fall, New York magazine reported that Trump’s camp was the source behind a salacious Dr. Ben Carson headline (”Bungling Surgeon Ben Carson Left Sponge in Patient’s Brain!”) but his campaign vehemently denied it.
Meanwhile, the Enquirer – which has a circulation of 371,925 – has made a bid for respectability as of late. The tabloid actually broke the story of former presidential candidate John Edwards’ extramarital affair and illegitimate child with former campaign staffer Rielle Hunter after a months-long investigation, which culminated with the Enquirer reporting on their secret visits to each other. There was even a brief flurry of speculation that the Enquirer might receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for their work, which the San Francisco Examiner likened at the time to “nominating a porn flick for an Oscar.” The tabloid was nominated in the investigative and national reporting categories, but ultimately missed the cut for finalists.
An unnamed source told The New York Daily News last summer: “Trump is a big friend of Pecker … so no John Edwards-type investigations.”
And despite all their efforts to be taken seriously, they haven’t strayed too far from their formula (and their “Enquiring minds want to know” catchphrase). Among their more recent articles is a piece alleging that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered by a prostitute.
A significant number of the nation’s major newspapers have backed Gov. John Kasich for the GOP presidential nomination, but their seal of approval has done little to prop him up in the polls with Republican voters. The latest surveys suggest Kasich is trailing Trump in his home state of Ohio and he has yet to win a 2016 presidential primary. Trump, on the other hand, has seen his unconventional campaign build a formidable lead in delegates and has enjoyed a number of sweeping victories in nearly every region of the country.